Breathing New Life into the First Generation Apple TV (or Not)

Apple TV Sep 18, 2019

I haven't posted anything in three months mostly because I haven't had anything worth posting about. I've usually got some sort of electronic project on the go or something boring to have a moan about but lately I just haven't had either; nothing worth wasting the effort to type out anyway. To rectify this I was going over the possibility of giving my old Apple TV a new lease of life, but then I decided I can't be bothered.

I've had a few ups and downs with the ATV over the years which I've posted about before, but ultimately it ended up with me removing it from service and replacing it with a Raspberry Pi 3B+ and running Kodi on that instead. The Pi didn't last long either though in that role as it couldn't handle my H.265 encoded videos which I'd recently switched to. The Pi can only hardware decode H.264, while H.265 has to be software decoded which the CPU just can't quite handle if it's 1080p content with a reasonable bitrate. As such it got replaced by an Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K with Kodi sideloaded onto it while I turned the Pi into a Pi-hole.

The reason why I thought I'd dig out the ATV again today was because I was considering getting a Linux distro running on and having it do something on my network. But while it's fairly simple to get Linux on the thing using OSMC, that software is now outdated given OSMC dropped support for the Apple TV in 2017. It's only got a paltry 1GHz Pentium M processor and 256MB of RAM anyway, so you can't really do anything intensive on it by today's standards and to top it all off it is much more power hungry than an inexpensive Raspberry Pi, which would do the job I was eyeing up for it much better. It's not even worth putting a full version of OS X on it as at most you can only run Tiger and that's so obsolete it hurts.

I will stop short of binning the thing however, even though it's fucking useless these days for anything other than its originally intended purpose, or as a pretty paper weight.